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Dr. Nic
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How cute.
[ *  * ]
[Boy #61 - William Hearst. Start.]

He'd been up for a while now.

He was alone out there, that much was obvious; He hadn't heard or seen anyone yet, and certainly didn't mind it. The last thing he wanted was someone coming across him, crying as he was; He hadn't moved far from where he woke up, only enough to pull himself up against a large stump and curl up, silently soaking the sleeve of his shirt. He had his arms wrapped around his head, trying desperately to keep his ears covered and his eyes sealed shut; After what he saw in the auditorium, after what he heard, he didn't want to see where he was or listen to the gunfire that he just knew was going off in the distance, to the screams and the shouting of his classmates. His mind had run with the idea of Survival of the Fittest, and any confidence he had in his classmates, in his friends, went out the window when he heard the first distant crack of gunfire or distinctive sound of an explosion. He had simply curled up and cried, shutting out the world as best he could.

But he didn't have any tears left.

His throat was sore and dry, the choking feeling having long before come about as everything seemed to climb up in his throat; He felt sick to his stomach at times, but strained to keep everything down. His eyes were bloodshot and stinging, his cheeks stained with the evidence of his break down; Beneath his eyes and around them, his skin was red and still wet. But he didn't have any tears left to shed, no matter how hard he tried or how desperately he wanted them to come. He had gone through the gasping for breath, the shuddering and the sobbing; He had gone through with cursing the world and everything in it, especially this damn show and the people who ran it. But now, there was little left and little point in continuing; For better or worse, he was stuck there, and no amount of crying would take him away from that reality.

He was now, for better or worse, a 'cast member' of Survival of the Fittest.

He was quiet now; No tears fell, his breathing had finally eased, and he started to think about his situation instead of trying to run from it. He knew that his life was now on the line, that much was certain; He'd seen the show, heard the rumors and listened to his classmates drone on about specific 'characters' before. He didn't want to accept the truth that it was real then, just like everyone else, but now? Now he had no choice; He was now a participant in Survival of the Fittest whether he liked it or not, and he would have to fight for his life. If he wanted to survive, he would have to question what distance he was willing to go; He would have to question which lines he would cross and which ones he wouldn't, and he had to acknowledge that his life was in his hands. If he wanted to survive, he had to make his own path.

He didn't realize that he had started moving, that he was no longer curled up and cutting himself off from the world, until he heard the zipper on his personal bag; His throat was sore and horribly dry, and he needed a drink. For a school camping trip, he had packed well. Extra clothes, personal snacks and drinks, even a couple books; But for the most part, his bag was a mess, missing many of his belongings. He noticed his cellphone was gone, and that someone had taken his watch for whatever reason; He liked that watch, and would likely miss it, but it hadn't been sentimental. It was just a nice watch; Stainless steel finish with a relatively wide, segmented band and a hefty weight to it. It was a really nice watch, and even now he could remember when he got it and why, how much he spent on it and how he had worked for weeks to get the money.

A fit of coughing brought him out of his thoughts, and he pulled a somewhat warm bottle of juice from his bag; He didn't mind the temperature, but a cold drink certainly would have been preferred. But it was a drink, and that was what he needed now; He didn't continue coughing, and his throat felt significantly better now, so it served its purpose. Slipping it back into the bag, he turned his focus to the other bag that sat nearby. The writing on it, and its proximity to him when he awoke, told him that it was his; He didn't want to open it, but his hands were acting against his better judgment as they pulled the provided provisions closer.

But he didn't expect to find what he did.

From within the bag, out fell his assigned weapon. A Kel-Tech P11 handgun; He discerned the name from the included manual. It was heavy in his left hand as he picked it up, and his fingers struggled to close around the grip. He closed his eyes for a moment and shook his head; shaking off his ambivalence about the weapon. He slipped the gun into his right hand and took a deep breath before closing his fingers around the grip. It didn't feel so heavy any more; Either in his hand or in his mind, it felt lighter than he was comfortable with. But it was his to use, his to defend himself with and his... to fight with.

But could he really do it? Could he really fight for his life, even against his friends? Against those he spent much of his daily life with, and those he loved?

I have to... right?

"That's right."

He held the weapon out in front of him, taking aim at a stump a few meters away. His eyes shot from the stump to the weapon, and then to the booklet in his left hand; He didn't know when he picked up the manual, or even when he opened it, but his eyes began to scan the pages. When he was finished with one, he flipped to the next; No matter how much he wanted to stop, no matter how much he wanted to curl back up and go back to separating himself from reality, he couldn't stop reading.

He checked the safety.

He located the magazine release.

He pulled back the slide.

"That's right..."

The manual was put down, and his hands curled around the grip; his right tightened around the weapon, his left cupping it from the bottom. His aim wasn't steady; Far from it, he could feel his hands trembling even now, even with both of them firmly upon the weapon.

Now the safety.

He flipped it off.

"That's right..."

Now, down the sights.

He leaned his head and closed one eye; He stared down the sights of the weapon, lining up the dots. It seemed so much simpler than he had wanted it to; He wanted it to be complicated, to give him an excuse to throw it away and rationalize his lack of need for the weapon. But it was simple.

You just aim...

"...and fire."

He couldn't believe what he was doing in that moment; It seemed so unreal, so slow and calculated. He felt his fingers tighten, he felt the trigger give way; He watched the hammer suddenly click back. He watched it suddenly disappear from its position, and he jumped as it cracked loud in his hands; His ears rang as the sound of the weapon going off was louder, far louder, than he had expect. It kicked in his hands, and when his focus returned, when his sight shifted from the gun to the stump he had taken aim at, he could see the splintered indentation he had made.

I... I fired a gun.

He had done just that; his mind reeled as he realized what it meant, as he realized that the gunfire was the very reason he had curled away from reality. But now he had fired a weapon. In his mind, he had cemented the fact that he was willing to fight for his survival, that he was willing to use his weapon if it came down to it; His trembling hands and his tear stained cheeks, his bloodshot eyes and his speeding heart all spoke differently as he sat there. He was frozen in place for a moment, not sure if he should remain there out of fear or out of uncertainty, but as time slowly clicked by, he body and mind began to ease.

I didn't hurt anyone, I didn't shoot at a person.

He tried to rationalize the firing of the gun now as he put the manual away, as he reached into the bag and pulled from it one of the extra clips. He didn't know why he put it into his pocket, or why he kept the gun out, but as he zipped the bags back up and finally pulled himself up onto his feet, he knew one thing.

He couldn't stay there.

It wasn't safe to sit in one place for as long as he had, and it wasn't safe to have made so much noise. He didn't know where to go or what to do, but the gun in his hand was the only thing he had going for him. He didn't know where his friends were, and without the gun, he probably wouldn't have a chance of surviving his first encounter with the unknown.

He remembered the map and compass, and pulled them out of the bag before he slipped the both of them unto his back. He may not have had much going for him, but he knew how to read a map; He knew what to look for in landmarks, and how to use the compass. But for now, there was little in the way of landmarks; He was surrounded by stumps and logs, dead trees and a decent layer of sawdust and leaf litter. He could see the mountain in the distance, the towering feature of the land looming above; But could he really climb it alone?

I have to... right?

"That's right."

He chose a direction, and slipped the map into a pocket; He had his destination in mind, now he had to reach it. So, he began walking. He didn't care where he was headed for now, as long as he was gaining ground and making an effort; As his distance away from where he had awoken began to grow, slowly, his pace quickened. He fell into a routine and rhythm with his steps, moving over logs and around stumps with gradually increasing speed and ease. Before long, he was making a decent headway.

Until he noticed the figures in the distance.
Edited by Dr. Nic, Aug 11 2010, 12:12 PM.
Boy #??? - Joshua Edwards
Hanging out somewhere, playing his heart out.
Writer and local retail slave at the comic book store.

Girl #??? - Viktoriya "Vika" Starikova
Floating in the void, unfinished and half-formed.
Hot headed member of the soft ball team, secretly wishing she could fly.

Those who were
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Everybody's Changing · The Felled Forest: North